By-works in the Carpathians

carpathian carpenter

Vasyl Toniuk, a famous Carpathian carpenter

Wood ware

Wood processing is an important and necessary work for the inhabitants of the Ukrainian Carpathians from house building on out to the things which are necessary in the household.

Processing of wood in the Carpathians passed the following stages: a tree was felled, and then split into boards. From the 15th century production of the wooden building materials developed largely in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Also in the Carpathians region cooperage was developed, it was manufacture of barrels, buckets, dough troughs, pails of various shapes, trunks, chests. Cooperage as an independent branch of folk craft was developed in connection with transportation of salt.

In the Carpathians and the Carpathians region wood shingles and laths were produced the most. All men of the region knew technique of such production. A craftsman produced, for example, 5 shooks of the long or 6.6 shooks of the short shingles per day. The shingles and laths were sold in the domestic market and were exported to Hungary. Since the end of the 18th century from 15 to 24 thousand shooks of the shingles were sent annually in Gdansk. According to some researchers, the billions of the shingles were produced in the Carpathians annually.

For centuries the Carpathian peasants were engaged in the processing of wood and become good carpenters. Their experience was handed down from generation to generation. Since the early 20th century 350 of 900 men in the village Stari Bohorodchany were carpenters and coopers. Ashes played also an important role. It was used for bleaching linen, processing leather, manufacturing soaps, and paints. Burning ashes became widespread in the Carpathians. 14000-21000 barrels of ashes were annually exported in Gdansk.

Wooden utensils, buckets, tubs, bowls, spoons, etc. made by the rural craftsmen prevailed in peasants’ life. An unknown author in 1886 wrote:

I often looked attentively at the fairs held in the cities in Pokuttya; where from 8 to 10 carts of various wooden utensils were brought and sold in a few hours. In 20s years the bowls carved from sycamore, maple, ash were famous

Production of wooden utensils was extended most in Hutsul region. Local people knew about the inaccessible mountains, where big maples, beeches and cedars grew. In winter two or three Hutsuls took a bag of flour, axes, and a chisel and went to build “kolyba”. One of them cut down a tree and produced relevant parts, the second chipped it and the third who was a master made a primitive lathe on which he turned bowls, cups and etc.


This craft is primarily associated in the Carpathians with processing wool of sheep. Sheep’s wool was clipped in spring in warm days. Before clipping the sheep were droven through the river, being bathed hereby in water. The sheep were clipped with the metal scissors. Clipped wool was washed, rinsed, dried and sorted, then carded by a special device called “hrempli”. It was a board with iron nails, on which carded wool was put and “scrabbled” with a wire brush. On this basis a more improved tool “drachka “appeared. Then wool was scarified.

Sheep’s wool was separated into long and short. A long yarn was used for producing the fine threads for decorative textile, and of the short yarns cloth was manufactured. In the Carpathians the method called “on the run” was extended. In this case a tow was attached to the belt or held by hand and sitting or driving – between the knees. The woollen yarn was warped and weaved, then beaten and felted in order to receive cloth.

Napping was a kind of techniques that were used in folk weaving in the Ukrainian Carpathians for final working woollen bed textile namely wool blankets.


Hunting took a special place by people of the Carpathians. Even without regard to the prohibitions, people continued to hunt in the forests of the Ukrainian Carpathians in the time free from the field works.

Self activating folk traps were used in order to catch animals and birds. The simplest of them were pits. So called “slopa” was used in the Carpathians for catching bears and wolves; it consisted of two poles between which some heavy blocks and a bait were laid. A beast trying to get bait moved a catch and knocked over blocks, which fell on him. Since the late 18th century the traps and various mechanical devices began to be used.


Along with hunting the people of the Carpathians region were successfully engaged in fishing in the mountain streams of the Carpathians. But the peasants in the Carpathians were forbidden to fish in the rivers, which belonged to the princes. The oldest method of fishing was catching by hands. Then fishing tackles and hooks were invented; the tackles were woven of wicker in the form of a basket. In addition fencing the narrow rivers was used.

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